Landon Simon tested a dirt midget, winged sprint car and non-wing sprint car at the Gateway Dirt Nationals track yesterday
Landon Simon is a 28-year-old open wheel driver from Tipp City, Ohio. In March 2017, he finished 3rd in the Triple Crown Spring Nationals. It was the debut open-wheel event for Mansfield Motor Speedway. In July, he returned to the Mansfield dirt track, finishing 2nd.
“When I saw Cody doing what he was doing, we made the 5 and 1/2 hour drive for his first Spring Series race. I’ve supported all of them, since then. Cody and I just kinda got to know each other through that. The opportunity presented itself, I had some race cars together and he needed a driver so here I am.”
Cody Sommer is the promoter of the Gateway Dirt Nationals as well as Mansfield Motor Speedway. When the idea to test open wheel machines indoors was presented, Landon Simon got the call.
Simon was the driver behind the wheel during the dirt sprint car and midget test yesterday in The Dome at America’s Center. It was only his 6th time behind the wheel of a dirt sprint car. An amazing opportunity for the Ohio open wheel driver.
Landon tested a dirt midget, winged sprint car and wingless sprint car. Those videos are posted below. He first words, after the first test where simple. “Holy shit!,” Landon said with a smile after exiting the dirt midget.
‘Holy Shit’ is that the quote?
“Yeah, absolutely. It’s unbelievable,” Landon Simon commented to RacingNews.co following the initial runs in the midget and winged sprint car test at the Gateway Dirt Nationals. “I’m mean the midget’s really good here. The race track’s perfect for them.”
“The winged sprint car is definitely a handful. I’ve never experienced anything like that. With a car that’s actually wanting to wing down. But yet, in a building at a little tiny race track. It’s pretty cool.”
What’s a handful about the winged sprint car exactly? Are you talking about how much grip the track has?
“The race track’s just really good, it has a ton of grip. Then, running a 712 gear in a 410 winged sprint car is something I’ve never done before. So, the throttle response is insane.”
“You don’t have any wing speed on corner exit so the thing wants to rear up and get the wheels off the ground. It’s got enough grip but then it wants to sit down on the wing and carry the right front. Then, the next thing you know, you’re in the corner.”
“I think somebody with a little more wing experience can get around here pretty good. I think if we made some changes [to the setup] we could actually get around here decent.”
“It’s a lot of fun. I see the potential to race those cars here. I was talking to some of the guys about what they could do to the race track. I think if it had a little, even smaller bottom. You know, a flat that you really had to slow down on. Then, you could have two grooves, running the top. I think it would actually put on a pretty good race.”
“The race track, the way it’s shaped, you could run around here really hard, making big circles out of it. Right now, with the track as good as it is, with grip, it would be kinda one laned with winged sprint cars.”
“If you made the bottom a little smaller and a little slicker you could have a guy that would tip-toe down there. Then, another guy would be able to rip around the top and have two groove racing.”
“I think with the midget, the way it is right now, it’s perfect. A winged sprint car relies on the wing, for pretty much all their grip, unlike a late model. Right now, you’re kinda at that balance point to wing down or not wing down. I don’t have a whole lot of wing experience.”
“I’m sure there are guys that could do a better job than me. I’m primarily a non winged sprint car driver.”
“The nice thing about a smaller race track is a non-wing guy can get up on the wheel. This type of race track is more conducive to a non-wing guy. I think non-wing guys could be competitive, even with a wing.”
“We’re getting ready to take the wings off and do what’s in my wheelhouse.”
The above portion of the interview was after a run with the dirt midget and the winged sprint car. As we spoke, the team was detaching the wing, swapping out some parts and getting ready to go again.
After the test of the wingless sprint car, I caught up with Landon once more. Just to get his overall thoughts on the machines that were tested.
So which one was your favorite?
“They were all really cool,” Landon Simon told RacingNews.co following the final test at the Gateway Dirt Nationals.
“The midget, I think we got around here the most competitively. The winged sprint car, it was just really awesome to do that. The favorite was probably the non-wing sprint car.”
“It obviously has midget characteristics. But, you’re in a sprint car, with 900 hp. It was pretty awesome to do that.”
“Cody was asking what I thought about it… A midget race here would be phenomenal. A non-wing sprint car race is a very real possibility if they were willing to do it. The wing car, there’s some challenges there with just the way they drive.”
“Very cool, unbelievable facility. These guys are obviously willing to do whatever it takes to put on a great show.”
You had some suggestions to Cody for tweaks to the track that would make it work better for these cars.
“Yeah, it kinda cambers off at the very top by the wall. With these things, when you get into that, it wants to suck into the fence.”
“If they rolled a little bit of dirt up there, that would just help in a situation where when you got up by the fence to kinda help keep you off of it. Also, to give you some grip up there. Almost, build a purpose built cushion up there and part of the way down the straight away.”
“Other than that, the surface is great. It kept moister in it all night. It’s a lot more than I honestly expected.”
Those changes are really simple to make too. So, it’s defiantly possible they could make some tweaks for a purpose built open wheel show then change it again for the late model different show a few days later or a week later.
“Absolutely, we could race these things here tomorrow. It’s something that takes a few hours to make. They definitely have a really good base template to work with.”
“From here, it’s just going to be, what Cody wants to do.”
Are you sticking around to watch the late models?
“Yeah. My buddy Kent Robinson ran this deal last year. He’s actually the one that let me barrow the gears for this. So, I’d like to come over and watch him race.